Xanax is the trade name for alprazolam, a benzodiazepine drug usually prescribed for anxiety disorders, panic disorders and mild depression. As with other psychoactive drugs, Xanax may cause dependence, and you can experience withdrawal when you stop using it. Withdrawal symptoms may include appetite loss, insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, nausea, vomiting, cramps and memory loss. Herbs may help relieve some of these symptoms. Consult your health care provider before starting any herbal treatment.
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Herbal remedies for Xanax withdrawal symptoms work in various ways. Nervine herbs help you relax and sleep. Carminative herbs relax your stomach and may help with nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps. Herbs for the brain may help with memory loss. Check with a qualified practitioner for advice about usage, dosage and preparation of these herbal remedies.
Passionflower, or Passiflora incarnata, is a perennial creeper native to North America. Herbalists use the leaves and stems to treat anxiety, insomnia and nervous stomach. Passionflower is rich in chemicals called maltol and ethylmaltol, which affect the central nervous system. In their 2001 book “Herbal Remedies,” naturopathic doctors Asa Hershoff and Andrea Rotelli state that passionflower can relieve sleeplessness, which is associated with drug withdrawal. Do not combine this herb with other sedatives or antidepressants.
Chamomile, or Matricaria recutita, is an ancient herbal remedy for stomach disorders and anxiety. The flowers are rich in essential oil, flavonoids and coumarins, and chamomile has nervine, carminative and antispasmodic actions. Drug withdrawal and the irritability it causes can lead to a range of gastrointestinal problems. In his 2003 book “Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine,” clinical herbalist David Hoffmann, FNIMH, AHG, explains that chamomile is especially helpful for digestive disorders, including appetite loss, diarrhea, cramps, ulcers and gas, that stem from anxiety and tension. Do not use this herb if you have allergies to members of the Aster family.
Bacopa, Bacopa monniera, is a small succulent native to India. It’s known as brahmi in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, and practitioners use it to treat anxiety and memory loss. Bacopa contains potent alkaloids, saponins and flavonoids. Amnesia can be a side effect of Xanax, and withdrawal may make it worse. Bacopa, known as a “brain tonic” in India, may help relieve this symptom. In their 2000 book “The Herbal Drugstore,” Dr. Linda B. White and medicinal plant expert Steven Foster explain that bacopa may strengthen your memory and improve concentration by enhancing nerve cell connections. Do not combine bacopa with anticonvulsants or antidepressants.
- “Herbal Remedies”; Asa Hershoff, N.D., and Andrea Rotelli, N.D.; 2001
- “Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine”; David Hoffmann; 2003
- “The Herbal Drugstore”; Linda B. White, M.D., Steven Foster; 2000